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Your Mariners and Athletics have a distinct advantage in Week 1 (March 20-31), provided your league's Week 1 includes the two-game series in Japan set to begin Wednesday at 5:35 am ET.
And if you've already drafted, why wouldn't it? The whole season should count, darn it. It's not like you couldn't change your lineup later. The only "locked" players would be the ones on those two teams.
No Fantasy GM should be denied a two-homer game for Khris Davis or a gem from Marco Gonzales. You make the investment, you reap the rewards. It's only fair.
But back to that advantage: Because of that early series, those two teams would have six games in a modified Week 1 while every other would have three or four. So regardless of whatever pitching matchups their hitters might face when they return to the U.S., those hitters deserve preferential treatment when setting your lineups. Meanwhile, Gonzales, Yusei Kikuchi, Mike Fiers and Marco Estrada are the only pitchers with even a hope of a two-start week.
It's a big deal and reason why you'll want to take a second look who you've positioned where before your head hits the pillow Tuesday night.
Of course, "preferential treatment" doesn't mean "automatic start." Not every member of those lineups is an everyday player, after all. So let's go through one by one and determine who's worth locking in for the next 12 days, at least as far as the typical mixed league goes.
Expected to contribute in Japan
Though not with as much conviction as in years past, you most likely drafted him to be your predominant speed source, and the two extra games makes him a no-brainer in points leagues as well.
NYY • RF • #30
Frankly, there's no guarantee he isn't the one who sits for Ichiro Suzuki's last hurrah, and while he does appear to be over the plantar fasciitis that wrecked his 2018, it may not be enough to salvage matchups against lefties like Chris Sale, David Price and Eduardo Rodriguez when he's back in the States.
CHW • 1B • #23
He's in obvious decline and may not be regarded as must-start all season long, but with six games on tap, the choice is clear.
I could be talked into starting him, especially since all the lefties in the Red Sox series only improve his chances of playing. But I'm still not convinced he'll be in the lineup for all six games, especially with Ichiro getting a ceremonial spot for the first two.
NYM • C • #2
Not in a one-catcher league, anyway. It's still not clear exactly how he and backup David Freitas will divvy playing time, but seeing as Narvaez bats left-handed, those Red Sox matchups are ominous. Two-catcher leagues are a different story.
TB • 3B • #45
He seems like a pretty safe bet to start all six games as the obvious fill-in for Kyle Seager, but he's also bad — and was against lefties last year, too. Desperation play only.
SEA • RF • #51
Call it a publicity stunt or just a gesture of goodwill, but Ichiro is there for the pomp and circumstance and not his actual play. He's expected to cede his roster spot when the Mariners return to the States.
SEA • SP • #7
The Athletics can hit a bit, and the dimensions of the Tokyo Dome are small. Gonzales does a good job keeping the ball on the ground, though, and is one of just a handful of pitchers with a shot at two starts this week.
TOR • SP • #16
He looked competent this spring and figures to offer the Mariners some length. The possibility of a two-start week pushes him over the top.
CIN • RP • #41
I'm actually fine with it, despite his unconvincing fit in the role. He's the undisputed source of saves in Seattle and will have two more shots at them than any other closer (apart from Blake Treinen) this week.
Others who may be 'locked'
TOR • CF
He'll presumably take Ichiro's place when the Mariners return to the states, but the health of his elbow is a big "if" in what for him would be only a normal-length week.
NYM • 1B • #32
It's between him, Bruce and Santana who sits for Ichiro and, later, Smith. Vogelbach is the least proven of the three.
ARI • SP • #8
Useful with the right matchups, but a one-start week against the Red Sox isn't that.
Expected to contribute in Japan
TEX • CF • #4
He could get on base a lot at the top of a quality lineup. But it's his one and only strength, and you could probably do better.
TOR • 3B • #26
Any concerns about his offseason thumb and shoulder surgeries he has alleviated with loud contact this spring.
ATL • 1B • #28
Opening against two lefties (Gonzales and Kikuchi) is less than ideal, but you didn't draft him to sit him, especially not when he's playing two extra games.
SF • RF • #6
You could make the case he was underrated in drafts, but even if he's normally a fringy starter in three-outfielder leagues, that certainly isn't the case with two extra games on the schedule.
SD • SS • #29
Surely you can find a spot for him at one of the three positions where he's eligible. The volume this week will make up for whatever he lacks in impact.
TEX • SS • #2
I guess? Look, you wouldn't sit Xander Bogaerts or someone equally studly for him, but two extra games is a nice boost, especially since the matchups against the Angels back home are pretty favorable.
CLE • RF • #10
He's exactly the sort of fringe player who stands out when there's a disproportionate schedule, especially since there are elements of power and speed there. (Maybe not in a three-outfielder points league.)
OAK • RP • #50
Probably worth it just for the likelihood he makes two starts. You hope for the "boom" end of boom-or-bust, and the matchups allow for it.
OAK • SP • #21
Too much "bust" here to hope for any "boom," regardless of how many starts he's making.
LAD • RP • #49
He's the sort of closer you keep starting even when he has fewer games, so you certainly don't sit him when he has more.
Others who may be 'locked'
NYY • SP • #47
Looks like he has a job following a terrific spring, but the big-league track record suggests this isn't the sort of gamble you take in Week 1.
MIA • RP • #44
Maybe in leagues that begin on March 28, this recommendation will be different, but since we don't know if he has a job yet, you can't risk it.